10 percent cut of gov’t from ABS-CBN ads questioned

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Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Monday questioned a provision requiring ABS-CBN to allot 10 percent of its paid commercials for government use, under the proposed interim franchise for the broadcast network.

Rodriguez said the provision violates the constitutional guarantee on equal protection.

He said it was not included in at least six other broadcast franchises granted by Congress in the past.

“The issue here in constitutionality for being unequal,” he told his colleagues as the House of Representatives reopened debates on House Bill 6732 seeking a temporary franchise for ABS-CBN until Oct. 31 this year.

The provision will require the network to allot “public service time” equivalent to “10 percent of paid commercials or advertisements” for all branches of government and international humanitarian organizations.

On the other hand, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the proposal would be an “easier and pragmatic” way for the government to reach specific audiences.

“It is good law to have this provision,” he said in response to Rodriguez,.

Cayetano said that the provision was also found in the broadcast franchises of GMA 7 and TV5.

“The 10 percent will not affect their bottom-lines.”

Cayetano said the “public service time” provision would allow government, for instance, to promote advocacies on issues such as breastfeeding or disseminate vital information during calamities or public health crises.

“This is actually an equalizer provision,” he said.

Rodriguez said the provision should instead be passed under a general law and not inserted in broadcast franchises./Stacy Ang

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